— Photo by Rhonda Hayward/The Telegram
Right around lunchtime on Friday, gaggles of teenagers were making their usual transit from the Avalon Mall back to Leary’s Brook Junior High in St. John’s.
They were kids at that unusually self-conscious, almost awkward stage, the age when the word “kid” actually makes the most sense, some walking across the crosswalk, others running to get onto the street before the light changed.
At least two didn’t make it, and while they were left standing there waiting, a taller girl let her fingers slip open almost as if by accident, dropping her empty plastic drink cup and its angular straw onto the grass at the edge of the parking lot, not even caring that people were sitting in their cars at the light, watching the trash fall.
On the trail at Topsail Beach, there was brand-new trash — empty beer cases of still fresh and barely dampened cardboard. In another spot on the same trail, today’s Tim Hortons coffee cup, extra-large with two teabags still inside, one Chai tea, the other green tea.
All along the trail, tightly knotted dark green plastic bags show where people have been diligent enough to clean up after their pets, but not, apparently, themselves.
Meanwhile, down on the beach, someone’s armchair is slowly decomposing into rust and foam — you can see it in the photo to the right.
There’s also a lovely pile of ochre carpeting unspooling into random fibres all across the tideline, just in case you’re not satisfied with the simple natural wonder of urchin shells, seaweed and the delicate broken spirals of what used to be the outside shells of whelks.
Clearly, you can’t force people to clean up their trash.
You can’t even make them think enough of this place to carry it as far as the next trash can.
In case you were thinking that we were making headway, there are still those among us, young and old alike, who seem willing to treat the outdoors as their personal dump.
And that’s a real shame.
It’s also something that has been written about plenty of times on this page and in this space. There are regularly letters to the editor about the mess — there was one on Saturday — just as there will certainly be more trash.
We live in a wonderful part of the world, surrounded by a harsh kind of natural beauty that entrances our guests, astounds and rivets photographers and which is viewed by an awfully large proportion of our population as the perfect setting for discarded cups and chip bags.
Put it this way: there are people who enjoy vandalizing cars.
There are those who have to scratch their names or comments into the paint on toilet stalls.
And there are those who think they have a right to take what belongs to all of us and trash it, simply out of laziness — because they can’t be bothered to walk 30 more steps with something in their hands or in their car.
It is its own particular tragedy.